Paul would be "hard pressed" to compliment Putin, doubts Clinton's pledge for no ground troops in Syria, Iraq

09/09/2016 08:20 PM

LOUISVILLE — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul didn’t have kind words for Russian President Vladimir Putin when asked Friday for his take on recent comparisons of leadership qualities between Putin and President Barack Obama.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said during NBC’s Commander-In-Chief Forum Wednesday that Putin has “been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” a point reiterated by his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, on CNN the next day.

Asked about the comparisons between Obama and Putin, Paul said he didn’t “have anything really good to say about Putin.”

“I think this is a guy who doesn’t allow basic rights and freedoms in his country, so it’d be hard pressed for me to have any complimentary statements for Putin,” he said after a roundtable with medical professionals at Jewish Hospital’s Rudd Heart and Lung Center.

Paul is among several Republicans distancing themselves from Trump’s praise of Putin. On Thursday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dubbed Putin “a murderer and a thug” while House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the Russian leader “an aggressor who does not share our interests.”

The Commander-In-Chief Forum also produced Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s pledge that she would not use ground troops to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq if elected, saying the U.S. would ultimately defeat ISIS without deploying ground forces.

Paul, who again blamed the former secretary of state for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, said that for the most part, he doesn’t believe Clinton “when she opens her mouth” when asked about her no-ground-troops promise.

“Hillary Clinton has been the biggest leader and advocate for sending weapons into that civil war in Syria,” he said. “In fact, Hillary Clinton was the one that said let’s keep giving them to all of these Islamic rebels fighting (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad, and out of those Islamic rebels came ISIS.

“So no, I don’t think Hillary Clinton has been very good at discovering what would be best for our national security.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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